Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, when asked about his team and the Boston Red Sox, hopes to see them facing off in a best-of-seven to decide the World Series.
The connection between the Red Sox and Cubs runs deeper than curses. Including the front office and coaching staff, there are seven former Sox on the 2017 Cubs and all but Anthony Rizzo have won a World Series in Boston. Among them are Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein; Cubs general manager and former Red Sox assistant general manager Jed Hoyer; as well as former Red Sox players Eric Hinske, John Lackey, Koji Uehara, and Jon Lester of course.
This weekend’s series, that wraps up with a primetime spot on Sunday Night Baseball, has been about more than re-acquainting old friends, though. At season’s start, the two clubs were the favorites among oddsmakers to earn a trip to the Fall Classic. The series has been wildly hyped, in part because of the connection, but more so a product of the overwhelming talent and youth on both rosters.
When asked about a pair of potential deep runs in the postseason for both teams, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is all in on the possibility according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"“Hopefully, this is something we can carry into the future,” Maddon said. “It’d be nice to eventually end up in the last seven games of the year between these two teams.”"
The young talent abundant on both rosters has been on display throughout the series.
Andrew Benintendi has homered twice in the series; Xander Bogaerts reached twice in Friday’s game then tripled and scored in yesterday’s; Mookie Betts doubled Friday and followed that up with a single off the Monster in the eighth yesterday, and Jackie Bradley Jr. has driven in runs in each game.
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For the Cubs, Kris Bryant hit a 450-foot homer in game one and added a pair of doubles in the second leg; Kyle Schwarber drove in the winning run yesterday, and Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer that changed the momentum in that game.
At 13-10 and 12-11 respectively, neither the Cubs nor the Red Sox have scorched the standings to start the season. Slow starts are easily corrected for over the duration of a 162 game season, but both teams are in needed of adjustments if they hope to see each other in a seven-game showdown to end the year.
The Red Sox offense, which has started to show signs of life after scoring five and four runs in the first two games, ranks 26th in the majors in runs scored. As Xander Bogaerts put it the other day, the lineup is feeling the absence of David Ortiz. They still have the potential to score runs at an elite rate, with a lineup that is nearly entirely comprised of the same players that led the majors in runs last season.
As for the Cubs, the offense hasn’t been a problem – they’re fifth in baseball with 120 runs scored. However, starting pitching will determine how long their postseason run lasts as their 4.34 rotation ERA is 22nd in the majors. Saturday’s starter John Lackey pitched well enough to earn the win but escaped the first inning without allowing a run for the first time in five starts. But with a rotation comprised of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Brett Anderson, Kyle Hendricks, and Lackey, it’s only a matter of time before they settle in.
Sunday night’s game will wrap up the only series the two teams will play against each other this year. This is the first time since 1918 that the two have played each other at Fenway Park with winning records, the same year they met in the World Series.